By Marisol Rodriguez, LDO, ABO-AC, NCLEC

In my previous article, One Optician's Journey from State to State, I disclosed my intent to pursue the American Board of Opticianry's Advanced Certification (ABO-AC). I have a career bucket list and earning my ABO-AC was one of the top items. After speaking with respected fellow opticians about my personal goals and hopes for the evolution of the field, I casually mentioned that I wanted to earn my ABO-AC and then ABO Master designation someday. Repeatedly, I heard these five words, "What are you waiting for?"

At the beginning of this year, I became eligible to take the exam for advanced certification. At first, I thought, "I have at least three years until my next renewal period. Why rush?" I spoke with another optician in February about the current climate in the field and my aspirations for advancing my optical career by getting my ABO-AC certification. They also asked, "What are you waiting for?" I had no good answer. Once I realized this, I went to http://www.nao.org and purchased the Advanced Opticians Tutorial. I got a "study buddy," and we encouraged one another to work hard and asked each other questions. I started studying every day during lunch and work breaks. I studied religiously, making every effort to be prepared. If I didn't understand something, I asked ECPs for clarification.

I had a daunting number of books, practice tests, teachers, and tutors available to study for the basic certification. I felt otherwise for the advanced exam. I think the lack of advanced certification exam study materials contributes to the low ABO-AC certification pursuit among opticians. Without sufficient study- guides and resources, I believe many shy away from pursuing advanced certification. I would love to encourage and challenge our educators to consider authoring more review books and tutorials for the advanced exam. If there is a variety out there, please, consider celebrating and advertising them. While my review book had many practice questions, I wish I had a larger bank of questions to choose from as well.

The ABO Advanced testing date arrived, and I had my normal anxieties. The test exceeded my expectations in areas I anticipated would be thought-provoking. I found almost every question academically challenging, and I most certainly had to critically THINK. A tip I would give a future test-taker is to write down every formula you can remember as soon as you sit down. Draw out lenses, both concave and convex, as well as optical crosses and reticles. It was vital for me to do so. It helped me relax a bit more when answering questions. By the time I finished the test, I realized it had challenged me to be a better critical thinker and troubleshooter. It was exhausting but fun, a word not usually applied to test-taking, but I do love a challenge.

I am happy to say that I completed and passed the exam. I feel grateful knowing that the time and work I invested in learning allows me to envision how an ophthalmic lens will perform and understand the effects of light incident upon a lens relative to the wearer experience. For opticians, this is the fundamental knowledge needed to execute our professional duties to a high standard.

I hope that more opticians will take the leap and advance their optical knowledge, earn their ABO-AC certification and join the ranks of those committed to the evolution of opticianry as a profession. Our field cannot grow without you. As an inquisitive person, I never stop asking questions. If there is one thing that earning the ABO-AC designation has already given me, it's knowing to ask the RIGHT questions. My question to those considering taking the ABO-AC is, "What are you waiting for?"